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SALT LAKE CITY — Ben Bolte sold his Mustang and moved downtown.
"I was a little nervous," he said, about giving up his automobile.
As the director of Salt Lake's new GREENbike bicycle sharing program, Bolte made the move in order to "walk the walk," or rather, pedal the bike.
With public and private dollars, SLC Bike Share installed 10 docking stations around downtown and purchased more than one hundred lime-green bikes.
The idea is to eliminate all the unnecessary short distance repetitive car trips that are made downtown by the nearly 65,000 people that work here.
The prices start at $5 for 24 hours, $15 a week or $75 a year and will buy you unlimited 30-minute bike trips from station to station.
You access the bikes using a kiosk at each location. People with annual memberships can bypass the kiosk by simply swiping an RFID card at a dock.
"The idea is to eliminate all the unnecessary short distance repetitive car trips that are made downtown by the nearly 65,000 people that work here," Bolte said.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker got the idea several years ago when he noticed bike sharing programs in Europe.
Bike sharing spread to the U.S., in large part through B-Cycle, a bicycle sharing company formed by Trek Bicycle, Humana and CP+B. Salt Lake uses the B-Cycle system.
The bicycles have three speeds that, using an internal hub, can be changed while the bike is stationary. They also have a chain guard to keep your pant legs clean and a basket to put your stuff in.
"It's just like recycling. If it's not super convenient, people won't do it," Bolte said, "and so that's the idea: you make it super convenient for people to do the right thing."
The bikes also have built-in GPS units. Riders with annual memberships can track miles traveled, calories burned and pounds of pollutants saved.
By the way, Bolte said living without a car has been easier than he thought.